Holy Family Hospital

Palliative Care

A Message from the Palliative Care Team

Patients with advanced life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses often face multiple medical crises, frequent hospitalizations or other challenges. Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley realizes that these patients and their families need additional support, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Our palliative care team dedicates the time necessary to assist in formulating and delivering a total plan of care. Our goal is to plan for a better day for patients and their families.

If you are facing a serious illness, new and complex issues and decisions are probably confronting you. Palliative care is designed to help you and your family identify goals and wishes for your care at any stage of such an advanced life-threatening or life-limiting illness.

Meet The Palliative Care Team

Beth Dymek, LCSW. As the social worker on the palliative care team, my role is to provide emotional support to both patients and their families as they struggle with life limiting illnesses. In addition, I assist in coordinating with other hospital departments and community resources to ensure smooth planning and continuity of care. 

Marcia Chatfield, DO. As the physician on the palliative care team I will work to reduce a patient’s disease symptoms, to relieve their pain, and to reduce the stress of life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses. In collaboration with the treating physician, I will help to develop a care plan to address the patient’s needs and wants for treatment. This will include meeting with the patient and family to discuss all treatment options, exploring possible alternative medicines, and deciding which plan of care is most appropriate. 

Eileen Soucy, RN. My role as the case manager on the palliative care team is to educate patients and families regarding their health care options. I also identify cases that could benefit from a palliative care consult. Connecting and collaboration is the hallmark of case management. 

Jackie Gauron, RN ELNEC
Kathy Straubel, RN ELNEC 

The goal of nursing in palliative care is to make your experience with an advanced life-threatening or life-limiting illness better. We will get to know the you, the patient, and understand what you want and need from your care. Through collaboration with your treating physician and our palliative care team, we will develop a nursing plan of care that expresses your wants and needs, monitor the plan’s effect, and revise it as needed.

About Palliative Care Services

What does the palliative care service do?

The palliative care service helps health care professionals help patients understand the nature of their advanced life-threatening or life-limiting illness, and create a treatment plan. Palliative care empowers patients to control their treatment, improve their quality of life and realize their end-of-life wishes. Each plan may recommend treatments for managing symptoms, as well as pain control, anxiety, depression and fatigue.

When would the palliative care service become involved in my care?

Your physician may call the palliative care service to become involved at any time during your hospitalization. Depending on each patient’s needs, a team member may be involved for a short period, or as part of a long-term care plan that may include end-of-life care.

What is the goal of Merrimack Valley Hospital’s palliative care service?

Our service empowers physicians to assist patients in the creation of a treatment plan, and in improving their quality of life and realizing their end-of-life wishes. Supportive care aimed at symptom control and improving quality of life can be adjusted to meet end-of-life care needs, such as:

  • Symptom control (pain, fatigue and nausea)
  • Emotional and spiritual support
  • Food and nutrition
  • Preservation of quality of life and dignity
  • Health care goal setting
  • Advanced planning
  • Wishes for end-of-life care

Who can be seen by the palliative care service?

Any hospitalized patient with an advanced life-threatening or life-limiting illness, or group of illnesses such as cancer, heart failure, HIV, emphysema or dementia, is eligible for palliative care, when referred by his/her physician. A palliative care physician and/or team members will assess the patient’s needs and communicate those needs to the primary care physician, who coordinates the plan of care.

Who will I see if my doctor refers me for palliative care?

The palliative care team consists of a specially trained physician, nurse and social worker.

How will my family benefit from palliative care?

We understand that it takes a lot of time and energy to care for someone else. The palliative care service provides help and support to families, friends and caregivers by assisting in multiple issues:

  • Expressing feelings and concerns
  • Asking questions of the health care team
  • Decision making processes
  • Identifying personal care needs
  • Using available resources for home care

The palliative care service also educates your family about health-related problems you may face in the future and assists in coordinating services. We are able to help family members learn how to talk to loved ones, listen, know what to say and develop skills to deal with their own feelings of guilt, anger and grief.

You may want to ask your physician:

  • Do I really need palliative care or can my regular doctor treat me for everything?
  • What kind of help is available for my family to help care for me?
  • What is hospice care, how do I get it, and how is it different from palliative care?
  • What does the term “comfort care” mean?
  • What are advanced directives, living wills and power of attorney, and do I need any of them?

For more information please call the palliative care service at Merrimack Valley Hospital at 978-374-2000.

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